Vodafone service centre
Vodafone service centre. The Music Network

Vodafone has become the first company to exit the Libra Association after it was formally formed last year, the Financial Times reported on 21 January.

According to the report, Vodafone and Libra both confirmed that the company is no longer a part of the consortium. It also appears that the parting was amicable, with the telecom conglomerate departing the project in order to focus on its own digital payment service, and not because of regulatory pressure.

A Vodafone representative reportedly said:

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“Vodafone Group has decided to withdraw from the Libra Association. We have said from the outset that Vodafone’s desire is to make a genuine contribution to extending financial inclusion. We remain fully committed to that goal and feel that we can make the most contribution by focusing our efforts on M-Pesa.”

M-Pesa is a mobile platform-based transfer service, which Vodafone has used to run its own digital money in Africa. The platform already offers the ability to accept different currencies for remittances, and is likely that it will start accepting stablecoins in the future.

The Vodafone representative further stated:

“We will continue to monitor the development of the Libra Association and do not rule out the possibility of future co-operation.”

Vodafone became the eight member to withdraw from the controversial stablecoin project, joining the ranks of companies such a PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, Mercado Pago, eBay, Stripe and Booking Holdings. Even though the payment companies likely left due to regulatory pressure, all aforementioned firms left the association before it held its inaugural meeting back in October.

Vodafone’s sudden departure will not stop the project. The Libra Association intends to admit new members into its ranks in 2020, with it being in the process of assessing hundreds of applications from other non-profits and businesses to join the project.

Dante Disparte, Libra’s Head of Policy and Communications, said:

“Although the make-up of the asssociation members may change over time, the design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient.”

Last week, the association formed a Technical Steering Committee which would oversee the development of its roadmap, and coordinate the design of the Libra platform. The committee consists of five members from various firms in the fintech and blockchain industries.

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